Louisville KY March 11 2011 A Louisville man has filed a $3 million federal lawsuit against A&E and its true-crime show, “The First 48,” claiming the show portrayed him as a murderer even though the charges against him were dismissed before the episode aired.
In July 2009, Tyson T. Mimms, 23, was arrested in the shooting death of 21-year-old Alfred D. Smith and charged with murder and tampering with physical evidence.
A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Louisville on Tuesday claims The First 48 ran an episode on April 1, 2010 — which continues to periodically air — about Smith's murder, including videotaped interrogations of Mimms, who is identified as the main suspect. The show focuses on the first two days of a murder investigation, the period widely thought to be most crucial to catching a killer.
The lawsuit alleges that after the interrogation by homicide detectives, a field producer for the show repeatedly requests Mimms to sign a release to appear on The First 48, which he refused to do.
But Mimms' interview appears on the show and at the end of the episode, he is arrested and charged with murder — with a message on the screen telling viewers Mimms is “currently awaiting trial.”
The day before the episode first aired, however, the charges against Mimms were dismissed “due to a lack of evidence,” according to the lawsuit.
Assistant Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney Ryane Conroy said in an interview that based on the evidence the prosecution had, it was in the best interest not to go forward at the time, but she said Mimms was properly charged and could be re-indicted sometime in the future.
Defense attorney Brian Butler, who along with Alex Dathorne represented Mimms in the criminal case, said there “was little or no evidence at all supporting a conviction and fortunately the prosecutor did the right thing.”
Smith was killed March 10, 2009, outside a liquor store in the Parkland neighborhood near 32nd and Kentucky streets.
According to the lawsuit, attorneys for Mimms demanded a correction “of this false and defamatory publication,” but the show has thus far failed to comply and continues to run the episode and make it available to watch online.
The lawsuit accuses A&E of libel, portraying Mimms in a “false light,” and wrongly stating he was awaiting trial for murder when the charges actually had been dismissed.
Mimms is seeking $1 million in pain and suffering, $1 million in punitive damages and $1 million in past and future lost wages.
“This isn't a case just about money,” said Nick Naiser, an attorney for Mimms. “It's about repairing Mr. Mimms' reputation. He has suffered substantial damage out of everyone in the community believing he was a murder. He doesn't think it's right and I don't think it's right.”
Claims made in filing a lawsuit present only one side of the case. A producer for The First 48 said in an e-mail they could not discuss pending litigation.